First published January 2010. Words by Livia Firth.
With hours to go until the Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles, you’ll be relieved to know that I have settled on a dress! With a whole rail of great LA green designers, who should I choose for the second red carpet?!
I’m going for US designer Casey Larkin’s label, Mr Larkin. And the big story is: it’s made from milk fibre!
This is only the second red carpet since we officially started the challenge. I can’t count the Venice Film Awards, where I wore an up-cycled dress from From Somewhere. And I have moved on from repurposed (Lucy considers this ‘a bit safe’) to a sustainable fibre, all in seven days!
I met Casey Larkin in LA on Monday. Her pieces have an old world romance about them – at least this 2009 collection does – but then she uses highly innovative fabrics. As well as milk fibre, she also uses Cupro – a fibre derived from the waste products in the cotton industry. I love this contrast and also the fact that she embellishes with recycled vintage trimmings. The dress I have chosen is covered in metal sequins from the 1930s. It’s delightful.
I haven’t been able to get this dress out of my head, not because it’s a weird sustainable fibre but because it’s so pretty and so, so soft. My (see, I’m already saying ‘my’) dress has a cashmere feel about it.
But I know what you’re thinking – “it’s milk!”. The first milk fibres were derived in the Forties but didn’t really take off. More recently Linda Loudermilk (who we’re meeting very soon), pioneered this type of super soft yarn that is actually derived from a milk casein protein. In which case, is it OK for vegetarians or vegans to wear milk fibre? Presumably it’s a by-product of the dairy industry?
Because I can never be too straight-forward, we’re changing the structure of the dress. It is really supposed to be low cut, but Casey is very kindly converting into a halter neck.
Designer, Casey Larkin is turning her creation into a halter-neck for me. Milk fibre and recycled vintage sequins, all in one dress!
For the Screen Actors Guild Award, my accessories are going to be strictly ethical, no vintage. Shoes are Stella McCartney (see my picture from yesterday), very gold, very high and they even have cork in them. Perhaps that’ll keep me afloat on the red carpet if it doesn’t stop raining.
I’m going to wear jewellery by Pippa Small for Made UK. I have huge admiration for both designer Pippa and Cristina Cisilino, who set up Made some years ago. They frequently collaborate, bringing ethics and great design together. Made produces from workshops in Kenya which I very luckily got to visit briefly in December. Cristina truly understands how an ethical and equitable production chain works. I’m hoping to grab an interview with her when I’m back in London. For now, I?ll tweet a picture of the earrings for the SAGs a little later!
And finally, I’ll be carrying the much coveted Luciana clutch bag from Bottletop (you can buy it at Eco-Age).
I got my first Bottletop bag, (the Paris design) from Annie Lennox a couple of years ago after an Oxfam meeting. Annie had a selection with her and we all went crazy about them! Bottletop is a charity run by Cameron Saul (his dad, Roger, founded Mulberry, so accessories must be in his blood), and Oliver Wayman; Annie is a supporter.
The bags are made by workers in a favela community in the outskirts of Salvador, Brazil where there is intense deprivation. Along with Luciano Dos Santos, originally from this community, Bottletop has established training and making facilities here. As an added bonus, they’ve salvaged over a million ring pulls from waste.
My original design was made from 800 reclaimed ring pulls. This beautiful clutch, the Luciana, is formed from 300. Only 50 of these bags have been made. I feel enormously lucky to be carrying this one on the red carpet tomorrow but I hope I cause a stampede for the others! By the way, you can pre-order through firstname.lastname@example.org org. All proceeds from sales go back into Bottletop working to help alleviate poverty and empower young people.
Photos by Caroline Schiff.